The Implications of Missing Skills

This month we look at the implications of removing skills when teaching PADI courses. The consequences may be greater than you think!

Let’s look at a couple of incidents that highlight the importance of teaching the performance requirements of each course in the proper sequence.  

Emergency Weight Drop skill

In the PADI Open Water Course students must demonstrate mastery of the emergency weight drop skill (Page 56, PADI Instructor Manual). The standard requires:

“During any dive, in either confined or open water, at the surface in water too deep in which to stand, with a deflated BCD, have student divers use the weight system’s quick release, to pull clear and drop sufficient weight to become positively buoyant.”


During a PADI Open Water course an instructor failed to teach a group of six students the PADI Emergency Weight Drop Skill. The students were all certified as PADI Open Water Divers. Subsequently, the group continued to dive together as certified divers. On one particular dive one of the students BCD’s failed to inflate on the surface. Unable to stay afloat, he panicked and started kicking and flailing his arms. Despite trying to orally inflate the BCD he couldn’t get enough air into it and he was struggling to keep his head afloat. As a result of using all this energy and inhaling some water he became unconscious and subsequently drowned on the surface. During the investigation it became apparent that he had not been taught the emergency weight belt drop skill which could have potentially saved his life. The family of the victim sued the instructor and won their claim for contributory negligence and damages. The failure to teach this skill was found to be one of the causes of his death.

Watermanship: Swim/Snorkel and Swim/Float

For our second incident we concern ourselves with Watermanship Skills from the PADI Open Water Course. Page 53 of the PADI Open Water Manual describes the requirements for the waterskills assessment as below:

 “Before Open Water Dive 2, have student divers demonstrate that they can comfortably maintain themselves in water too deep in which to stand by completing a 10-minute swim/float without using any swim aids.

At some point before certification, have students complete a 200 metre/yard continuous surface swim or a 300 metre/yard swim with mask, fins and snorkel.”


During this incident the instructor decided to allow his four Open Water student to complete a modified 200m swim. He allowed his students to simply pull themselves around a boat by a rope attached to the side of the boat and not actually swim at all. He certified them as PADI Open Water Divers. Two of the students decided to continue with their PADI Advanced Open Water Course at another dive centre. This centre failed to undertake a pre-assessment of the students and started the PADI Advanced Open Water with the Deep Dive. During the dive one of the students got into difficulties in a current. He was swept away from the group. After a search his body was found on the bottom and he was late pronounced dead. The cause of his death was listed as ‘drowning’.  His partner told authorities that neither she nor he could swim and neither had ever met the watermanship performance requirements during their Open Water course.

Whilst many factors contributed to his death, the PADI Open Water Instructor was found to be negligent in their failure to assess watermanship during the PADI Open Water Course.

These examples shows us how important it is to teach all of the skills in each PADI programme. Each skill is in the course for a reason. What may appear to be a minor infringement to some people can have serious consequences later. From a moral perspective we have a responsibility to teach people the skills in each course so that they may be able to conduct dives of that type in a similar environment in a comfortable manner. This is not just about us and our needs. It is about holding a position of responsibility to ensure that each diver you certify is capable of undertaking the dive level and type that you have certified them for.

When an instructor takes it upon themselves to decide what skills will and won’t be completed in a course they expose themselves to liability. Remember the question to ask yourself is “would reasonably prudent dive instructor conduct the programme or course in the same way?” If the answer is no then your ability to defend a legal claim may be remote. Your ability to provide a reasonable answer to family and friends asking how this could have happened is lessened.

Sometimes people make decisions like this due to poor weather, time constraints or pressure from customers to get finished before mastering the skills. There is no justification for modifying courses or failing to teach the required standards. Breaches of this nature are considered very serious and can lead to punitive action being taken against the instructor and/or the store.

As PADI members we strive collectively to maintain our high standards thus protecting ourselves, the diving public and the PADI brand. If the PADI brand is damaged so is our ability to attract customers and grow our careers. Protecting the standards is in everyone’s best interests.

If you have any concerns about incidents or standards email us at

PADI | GoPro Evolution Contest Moves on to Part 2 – EDIT

Go Pro Evolution Contest - PADI - GoPro

By now you’ve heard that PADI® has partnered with GoPro to present the three-part Evolution video contest series, which will run through 2019. It’s now down to just two parts, since the CAPTURE contest ended 30 May (with more than 1,200 entries). If you missed your chance to enter the CAPTURE contest, there’s still an opportunity for you or your divers to win great prizes.

The second contest, EDIT, opens 1 July and closes 15 August, and tests video-editing skills by asking you to artfully piece together a series of clips provided by GoPro. (The final contest, CAPTURE/EDIT, runs 16 September through 31 October and requires putting everything together – capturing and editing – into one awesome story.) While the focus is on editing GoPro’s underwater clips, the EDIT contest is still a great opportunity to grow your business:

  • Sell the Digital Underwater Photographer specialty. The Digital Underwater Photographer specialty course doesn’t just teach how to shoot great stills and video; it teaches divers how to tell a story. This includes shooting and editing. Whether it’s Adobe Premiere Pro, Windows Movie Maker, Final Cut Pro or even GoPro’s free-to-download Quik software, there are dozens of great video editing programs your students can learn. Quik makes video editing seamless with panning and time-lapse effects, and the ability to sync music to clips with just a few clicks. Sell your divers the complete storytelling experience with a Digital Underwater Photography course,  then…
  • Sell more GoPro cameras (and accessories). Even though GoPro provides the clips to edit a story together and GoPro’s Quik software is free to download, meaning there’s no purchase necessary to enter the EDIT contest, what you’re really selling is the experience and the chance to enter the third contest, CAPTURE/EDIT. That means selling divers a GoPro camera along with the Digital Underwater Photography course, and putting it all together.

Download logos, images and other GoPro assets to promote the PADI | GoPro Evolution video contest on your page, and good luck.

Gearing Up for PADI Women’s Dive Day 2019

PADI Women - Women in Diving - Scuba Divers

On July 20, 2019, thousands of divers in hundreds of locations around the world will be celebrating, and diving, during the fifth annual PADI Women’s Dive Day. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bring together your community in the spirit of diving and camaraderie.

Past events have brought divers of all ages, shapes, and genders for some exciting, and inviting dive events. If you’re looking for inspiration to start your own PADI® Women’s Dive Day event, it’s not too late!

Check out this small sampling of the hundreds of cool and worthwhile experiences already planned to help you with ideas:

  • Asia Divers in Puerto Galera, Philippines, has devoted the weekend of July 20-21 to PADI Women’s Dive Day. The “Healthy Ocean, Healthy Body” weekend will include a Dive Against Debris®, freediving lessons and freedives, a night-time “blackwater” dive, as well as yoga, fresh fruit and drinks, and healthy meals throughout the two days.
  • For “Operation Conservation,” Dive World in Austin, Texas, together with a local Girl Scouts troop at Windy Point Park, will have an underwater trail of facts and suggestions on how to protect aquatic ecosystems and #divelikeagirlscout!
  • Lanzarote Non Stop Divers isn’t satisfied with just one day dedicated to women in diving, they’re devoting an entire week! (Yeah, you can totally do this too!) From July 15-20, women of all ages can do any PADI course in the center for 50 percent off plus they get a free dive in the underwater art museum, the Atlantic Museum.
  • A dive shop that’s giving back to the community at a high level, Scuba Ventures in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, is running a PADI Women’s Dive Day event that will raise funds for a local women’s shelter and rape response group.
  • Azul Unlimited in Komodo, Indonesia, is offering a special discount for day trips and has organized a Dive Against Debris event that will take place at their Project AWARE® Adopt a Dive Site™, Batu Bolong.

If you need more inspiration to create your own event, or to find an event to participate in, visit the PADI Women’s Dive Day page for ideas, tips and tricks to get divers – both female and male – into your store for the day, weekend, or entire week of diving and fun!

Make sure you Register Your Event as a PADI Dive Shop or PADI Professional.